Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Leadership 2017 Links

The latest from the NDP's federal leadership campaign.

- Kristy Kirkup reports on the release of Jagmeet Singh's climate change policy statement.And Charlie Angus has offered his road map toward a transition to renewable energy, while the CP reports on his plan for a more fair relationship with Indigenous peoples.

- Meanwhile, Len Gillis reports on Angus' focus on winning support beyond party lines based on his role as a voice for Northern Ontario.

- Guy Caron has unveiled his first major endorsements of the campaign, including ones from Jean Crowder, Chris Charlton and Ruth-Ellen Brosseau

- Tom Parkin discusses how the race has featured meaningful policy discussions which are sorely lacking elsewhere in Canada's political scene.

- Finally, Robin Sears argues that the candidates should be careful to make sure that their positioning within the leadership race don't cause undue harm to the broader party. But while I somewhat agree with what I take to be his underlying sentiment, I strongly disagree with his examples.

Surely it's fair to ask candidates to answer questions about their position on major campaign issues - as Singh has done since the debates where he previously demurred on questions about pipelines. But Sears not only seems to expect candidates to avoid asking questions about fellow contenders' positions, but also to shelve their own proposals merely because they might not be convenient for all groups within a party. (That's surely a recipe for politics utterly devoid of values and content - exactly what Parkin laments outside the NDP.)

And it's off base to suggest that any candidate - and particularly a female leadership candidate - should shy away from raising legitimate policy questions merely because they don't serve the interests of a female premier.

Where Sears' point does have some validity, though, is in more personal questions which seem aimed at treating candidates as out-group members.

On that front, I'd particularly point to Angus' line of questioning pushing Singh to commit to running federally regardless of what happens in the leadership race or elsewhere.

That might create an exploitable soundbite in the leadership contest. But it's not at all fair to push that expectation on a candidate who has demonstrated his federal bona fides by running - and nearly succeeding - in a seat which was seen as a long shot for the NDP before he started working for it. And indeed, Angus' demand would seem to be counterproductive: Singh's current position and profile within the Ontario NDP might well do more to help the party at both the provincial and federal levels than a non-leadership role federally.

In sum, we should expect and encourage leadership candidates to identify and debate genuine differences of policy and principle. But we should take care not to let the leadership campaign sink to the level of unfair personal criticism - both because we should expect more out of our politicians generally, and because of the importance of all candidates and their teams being able to work together once the campaign is done.

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